Senator Harkin cheers on ADAPT.
ADAPT activists spend the day on Capitol Hill.
March 1, 2005) Senator Tom Harkin introduced MiCASSA last week to the cheers of ADAPT; today, Harkin spoke to ADAPT to cheer the activist group on.
“Words are nice but sometimes you’ve got to take action,” said Sen. Harkin. “That is why I am proud of you and I am proud of ADAPT.”
ADAPT has been in Washington DC since the start of the National Governors Conference to influence a resolution on long-term care. The ADAPT resolution, introduced at the NGA Seattle Conference makes a bold statement of the need to end the Medicaid bias, fully implement the 1999 US Supreme Court ruling in Olmstead and support MiCASSA. The week the NGA arrived in the Capitol, Harkin introduced MiCASSA in the Senate [S 401] and Rep. Danny Davis introduced it in the House [HR 910].
“Now is the time to turn up the heat,” said Sen. Harkin, “now is the time to turn on the pressure. Now is the time to say these are the values of America; these are our values.”
The Medicaid bias requires US states to fund expensive and undesirable institutional services while home and community-based services are optional state services. In tight budget years, the states turn to non-institutional services to make cuts. The institutional bias is also a boon to the for-profit nursing home industry, which sees two-thirds of their profits come from Medicaid and other public funds.
“I don’t want anyone telling me ‘oh we can’t do it Harkin, we can’t do MiCASSA, we can’t do this because you see we have this big budget deficit’,” said Harkin. “Big budget deficit. Well why do we have a big budget deficit? Because we gave tax breaks to the richest people in this country – that is what happened. And they tell you that you can’t get out of the nursing home, we don’t have the money for it. Well, I will tell you what we got money for it. This country is rich enough to afford it. By God we are spending $6 billion a month in Iraq - six billion dollars a month. The estimated first year cost of MiCASSA is about $10 billion. We could have a whole year of MiCASSA for two months in Iraq. I’ll trade that any day of the week.”
ADAPT holds that the cost-efficiency is second to the civil rights purpose. Americans need and desire choice in the aging long-term care system. The program is over 30 years old and America has set out on a new path of inclusion and participation since the 1990 Americans with disabilities Act.
Sen. Tom Harkin concluded his comments to ADAPT:
So take heart, you are all courageous. If you didn’t have courage you wouldn’t be here tonight. You are all brave people. And there are lots counting on you.
There are people who are not as brave as you. They have been beaten down. I know a lot of them. I know a lot of people with disabilities who gave up because society was against them, everything was against them and they kind of gave up and they gave up hope. There are millions of people out there that are counting on you – You are the brave hearts.
For those who are in the dark shadows, who are still fearful; for those who haven’t found their voice; for those who have been beaten down and think that there may not be hope for them; for so many yet to be born, who are going to face a life with disabilities; for those we need you. We need your courage, we need your strength, we need you on the front line now more than ever.
I want you to know that as long as I am privileged to represent you in the United States Senate, I will be by your side. I will be in back of you, I will be in front of you, I’ll be by your side every step of the way – and we are going to win.
- Tim Wheat